Chapter 2 of this guide is for friends and relatives. You, too, have experienced a loss. This chapter will provide hints for how to interact with the grieving spouse.
As always, I am required by bloggers law to provide notice that this is a work of fiction and certainly not inspired in any way by actual things said to me over the past 8 months.
- On finding out that the bereaved partner visits the gravesite on a regular basis, act surprised that the visits are occurring. When asked why, respond with “You weren’t married that long.”
- Tell the surviving spouse that you are so grateful they were willing to take care of the deceased during the final illness, because you were not able to do so. Use a tone of voice that clearly indicates your belief that the spouse was far less important to the deceased than you were, and that you never expected them to act in a responsible or caring manner toward their life-partner.
- If the grieving individual ever tries to talk with you about some part of what she/he is going through, be sure to bring up an anecdote that imparts the message of how miniscule the problems of the grieving friend are in comparison with, you know, something or someone more important.
- Be judgmental. When seeing that the grieving person is in a good mood, subtly indicate your surprise that they might just be experiencing happiness during that moment. If they are in a low mood, act impatient about their inability to snap out of it.
- Ask, repeatedly, about the cause of death. Don’t be satisfied with vague answers; keep pressing for more information, like Mike Wallace after drinking a double-shot espresso.
- Make sure everyone knows how sensitive and caring a person you are. When you see the bereaved individual out at a social event, lavish a great deal of attention on them in exactly the same way you’d treat a 3-legged puppy. Interrupt the person several times to give them big hugs, tell them how sorry you are, and how “brave” they are. Look at them using the same facial expressions as a Precious Moments figurine. Make sure you time these moments for when the person is actually having a decent time.
- Ask how the person is doing, and then ignore or discount what you are told.
- Complain a lot about all the things you dislike in your spouse. Make a joke about how much you envy your now “single” friend.
- Shortly after the funeral start a Facebook conversation about the deceased that impugns them, their life and how they died. FB is the perfect place to do this as the widow/widower will be sure to see all the back and forth correspondences related to this conversation.
- If your relationship was primarily with the deceased individual, assume that no further acknowledgement or contact is needed. Don’t go to the funeral, don’t send a card, and don’t call.